How to Make Tamales

Though they are eaten year-round, tamales are beloved around the holidays. They're perfect to serve at home or bring to a party.

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved 2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved 2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved 2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved 2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved 2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved 2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved 2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved 2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved 2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Alton's Hot Tamales

The soul of a tamale is cooked corn dough that is then formed around a spicy filling all wrapped up in a corn husk and steamed. With just a few basic ingredients and a few simple techniques from Alton Brown, your tamales will be delicious.

Get the Recipe: Hot Tamales

Prep a Wrapper

While the meat filling is cooking, place the corn husks in a large bowl or container and submerge completely in hot water. Soak the husks until they are soft and pliable, at least 45 minutes and up to 2 hours. Skip parchment paper, which can make them dense and greasy, and stick with inexpensive and all-natural dry husks.

Moist Husks

Remove the corn husks from the water and pat dry to remove excess water.

Cornmeal Dough

Place the cornmeal, salt and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and combine. Add the lard and, using your hands, knead together until the lard is well incorporated into the dry mixture. Gradually add enough of the reserved cooking liquid, 3 to 4 cups, to create a dough that is like thick mashed potatoes. The dough should be moist but not wet. Working in batches of 6, lay the husks on a towel and spread about 2 tablespoons of the dough in an even layer across the wide end of the husk to within 1/2 inch of the edges.

For the Filling

Spoon about 1 tablespoon meat mixture (Alton uses meat, but you can use vegetarian or sweet fillings) in a line down the center of the dough. 

Assemble

Roll the husk so the dough surrounds the meat, then fold the bottom under to finish creating the tamale. Repeat until all husks, dough and filling are used. Tie the tamales, around the center, individually or in groups of 3, with kitchen twine.

Cook

Stand the tamales upright on their folded ends, tightly packed together, in the same saucepan used to cook the meat. Add the reserved broth from making the dough and any additional water so the liquid comes to 1 inch below the tops of the tamales. Try not to pour the broth directly into the tops of the tamales. Cover, place over high heat and bring to a boil, approximately 12 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to low, to maintain a low simmer, and cook until the dough is firm and pulls away easily from the husk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Serve

Serve the tamales warm. For a "wet" hot tamale, serve with additional simmering liquid. Store leftover tamales, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, in the freezer, for up to a month. To reheat, remove the plastic wrap and steam until heated through.

Alton's Hot Tamales

The soul of a tamale is cooked corn dough that is then formed around a spicy filling all wrapped up in a corn husk and steamed. With just a few basic ingredients and a few simple techniques from Alton Brown, your tamales will be delicious.

Get the Recipe: Hot Tamales

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